The Equitable Life Assurance Society (Equitable Life), founded 1762, is a life insurance company in the United Kingdom. The world's oldest mutual insurer, it pioneered age based premiums based on mortality rate laying “the framework for scientific insurance practice and development”
At its peak, Equitable had 1.5 million policyholders with funds worth £26 billion under management, but it had allowed large unhedgedliabilities to accumulate in respect of guaranteed fixed returns to investors without making provision for adverse market changes. Following a July 2000 House of Lords ruling, and failure of attempts to find a buyer for the business, it closed to new business in December 2000 and reduced payouts to existing members. The 2004 Penrose report found that the company had made over-generous payouts leading it to be under-funded. A 2007 European report concluded that regulators had focused on solvency margins and failed to consider the increasing risk of accrued terminal bonuses.
The October 2010 Spending Review by the coalition government announced compensation of £1.5Bn - above the level recommended by the review conducted by Sir John Chadwick and below the £4-4.8Bn loss calculated by consultants Towers Watson.